“And he said, ‘O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.’ And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.'” (Daniel 10:19 ESV)
I was in town today walking back from the bank when I passed by a tanning shop. Emblazoned full size in the window, were a picture of a man and a woman smiling in their beachwear displaying their bronzed skin for all to see. The message being conveyed was: If only you had a skin and body like this you can be enjoying life and be in relationship with someone bronzed and fit too.
For some of us who have been around a while that train of thought of being toned in body and having bronzed skin has now left the station. We will never return to the sartorial days of our youth where thought of sagging and wrinkled skin were a mere afterthought, a distant speck on the horizon, rather than a daily rebuff from a glance in the mirror.
It made me ponder upon how this modern culture is all about becoming something we are not, enticing us away from being happy for who we already are, in our own skin. In this particular advert’s case its appeal was of having a desirable body and in being no longer alone: if only we get ourselves tanned enough. I dread to think what carcinomas are being activated in the process, but that is another thought.
What my pondering became aware of was that as we get older, we may become socially disconnected, potentially less desirable to our own minds, fearful of looking at ourselves in the mirror, or being gazed upon by others.
Here in Cheltenham we are a prosperous town. Contrarily there is national recognition for having some of the most deprived areas and needy people in the UK. We have people begging on the streets sitting cheek by jowl, ignored, invisible alongside windows of designer goods.
Yes, there are some Christian charities that help ameliorate the day-to-day hand-to-mouth existence feeding some who have become out of favour, dysfunctional or dispossessed. Invisible to the system, feared as dangerous, and an issue, but recognised by these few workers as in dire poverty; there is a collective societal disconnect.
Through Jesus, no matter where we are, what condition, alone, messed up or what we look like, God loves us and reaches out to us, body, mind and spirit to bring us to a place of acceptance, peace and love. Daniel is an example, a man loved by God who was recognised and listened to, purely because he set his heart to talk to God and intercede.
Through Jesus, no matter where we are, what condition, God’s acceptance, peace and love can reach out to us and through us too, if we have a mind to allow it.
PRAYER: LORD, thank you for all that You have done for us. Forgive us that we often take it all for granted, as you deliver us once more from the grip of sin and failure, for which we are thankful and truly sorry. Please lift us up and come into our hearts to show us how to pray and where You have more work to do. Then empower us to be a part of Your Kingdom’s hands and feet to those you send us to, in Jesus’ name, amen.